Jay M. Wendell: 1948 – 2012
Jay M. Wendell was a native of Louisiana, and it influenced every aspect of his life: from his commitment to Southern values of integrity, honor, courtesy, and generosity to the manner in which he built homes. His father died when he was 9, leaving Jay’s mother to bring up her two sons in Houston. When his brother, an Air Force pilot fighting in Vietnam, was captured as a POW, Jay made a difficult decision to leave his beloved Texas A&M University and the Corps of Cadets. He returned to Houston to support his mother and brother’s family during this difficult time, completing his undergraduate degree with honors at the University of Houston. (Jay’s brother was released – with John McCain – in 1973.)
Upon graduation, Jay joined the Criminal Investigation Division of the U.S. Treasury Department as a special agent. After completing various elite executive development programs, he led numerous criminal investigations and became an instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center at Glynco, Georgia. He later led the Wagering and Organized Crime Unit in Houston and served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of Captain.
In 1979, he left the Treasury Department to join his former Special Agent in Charge in the homebuilding business. Quickly mastering the technical aspects of home construction, Jay began building homes with his former boss. In the early 1980s, he joined the first custom homebuilders who established the reputation of The Woodlands for its top-quality estate homes.
Over 30 years, he built his business and his stellar reputation as a builder of custom and estate homes in The Woodlands. He was recognized repeatedly by numerous publications and with numerous national design and home builder awards, including “best of show” awards by The Woodlands Development Company. His clients included influential and eminent community leaders, and his business was built exclusively on referrals and repeat business. J.M. Wendell, Inc., supported his family and created numerous jobs for others in Montgomery County. In 2009, the company fell victim to the economic downturn after purchasing their largest tracts of land in East Shore on Lake Woodlands, forcing the closure of J.M. Wendell, Inc. and Southern Mark Homes, LLC.
Jay resumed his notable career in homebuilding with a new company, Terrebonne Custom Homes, Inc. Named for the Louisiana parish where he grew up, this venture continued to reflect his strong Southern values, continuing his commitment to excellence in quality and dedication to outstanding customer service.
Decades after returning to his family in Houston to complete college, Jay continued to long for a degree from Texas A&M. In May 2008 he was awarded his MBA from that institution, where he was a frequent guest lecturer.